VP of Philippines “Adaptation to Climate Change Must be the National Priority

By Eliot Levine, WWF-US

Jojo Binay, the newly elected Vice President of the Philippines, spoke at the close of the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) this past week. Apart from being his first major policy speech, his remarks at the energy-focused event are noteworthy in that they focused heavily on adaptation.

“The unique circumstances of the Philippines puts us in a situation of acute vulnerability due to the anticipated impacts of climate change” said Binay early in his address.

The rest of his adaptation-focused remarks illustrates that Binay understands the fundamental link between more traditional environmental stresses, such as overdevelopment and deforestation, and the ever increasing impacts that climate change will have on island nations such as the Philippines.

“The situation is grim”, he begins.

“Ours is an archipelagic country, where agriculture remains a significant source of livelihood for Filipino families. Despite the sound ecological stewardship of many progressive local governments, too many of our ecosystems continue to deteriorate in alarming rates. Despite economic advances and great strides in technological development, too many Filipino families continue to live impoverished lives.”

“Rising sea levels threaten Filipino coastal communities, along with the projected increase of diseases like dengue. Extreme precipitation and more intense storms such as typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng are projected, along with prolonged and more intense dry seasons.”

“For these reasons, adaptation to climate change must be the national priority. We must increase exponentially the ability of Filipino communities to cope with worsening climate impacts, a problem they have contributed little to, but whose full impact they feel the most.” 

In terms of immediate actions or solutions from the global community, Binay discussed the importance of carefully thought out financing for adaptation. He cautioned that although financing for adaptation is “crucial”, that it should be prioritized for “the most vulnerable sectors” and “not be extended as loans by institutions such as the ADB.”

Binay also used the opportunity to encourage leaders to develop strong links between mitigation and energy strategies and efforts to build strong communities and economies which are more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

“In the field of mitigation lies the huge opportunity to push emissions reductions together with sustainable development. Instead of being treated as activities separate from a country's development programs, mitigation activities can and should take place in a manner that builds resilient communities and economies in the region. This is because resilience and vulnerability are critical factors that largely determine future energy choices. Taking into account water risks, extreme weather events and more -- we must keep in mind that resilience is a fundamental principle as we rethink the way we produce and consume energy.”